Making Amends: Atonement in Morality, Law, and Politics

Paperback | January 28, 2011

byLinda Radzik

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Can wrongs be righted? Can we make up for our misdeeds, or does the impossibility of changing the past mean that we remain permanently guilty? While atonement is traditionally considered a theological topic, Making Amends uses the resources of secular moral philosophy to explore thepossibility of correcting the wrongs we do to one another.Philosophers generally approach the problem of past wrongdoing from the point of view of either a judge or a victim. They assume that wrongdoing can only be resolved through punishment or forgiveness. But this book explores the responses that wrongdoers can and should make to their own misdeeds,responses such as apology, repentance, reparations, and self-punishment. Making Amends explores the possibility of atonement in a broad spectrum of contexts - from cases of relatively minor wrongs in personal relationships, to crimes, to the historical injustices of our political and religiouscommunities. It argues that wrongdoers often have the ability to earn redemption within the moral community.Making Amends defends a theory of atonement that emphasizes the rebuilding of respect and trust among victims, communities and wrongdoers. The ideal of reconciliation enables us to explain the value of repentance without restricting our interest to the wrongdoer's character, to account for the powerof reparations without placing a dollar value on dignity, to justify the suffering of guilt without falling into a simplistic endorsement of retribution, and to insist on the moral responsibility of wrongdoing groups without treating their members unfairly.

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Can wrongs be righted? Can we make up for our misdeeds, or does the impossibility of changing the past mean that we remain permanently guilty? While atonement is traditionally considered a theological topic, Making Amends uses the resources of secular moral philosophy to explore thepossibility of correcting the wrongs we do to one anot...

Linda Radzik is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of M.A. Program at Texas AandM University.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 6.1 × 9.09 × 0.59 inPublished:January 28, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199767254

ISBN - 13:9780199767250

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Table of Contents

1. An Ethic for Wrongdoers2. Repaying Moral Debts: Self-Punishment and Restitution3. Changing One's Heart, Changing the Past: Repentance and Moral Transformation4. Reforming Relationships: The Reconciliation Theory of Atonement5. Forgiveness, Self-Forgiveness, and Redemption6. Making Amends for Crime: Restorative Justice and the Liberal State7. Collective Atonement: Making Amends to the Magdalen PenitentsNotesBibliographyIndex